Understanding your rights as an airline passenger


Airline disruptions seem to happen more often these days –– but if you find yourself caught in flight delays, cancellations or overbookings, it’s up to you to know what your rights are and request compensation. Consumer Reports arms you with the knowledge to help you get what you deserve.

When it comes to cancellations, each airline handles things differently. Delta, for example, will either put you on its next available flight or rebook you on another carrier. Southwest on the other hand, only re-books passengers on the next available Southwest flight. Check specifics for the airline you’re traveling.

Get bumped, however –– and you do have recourse. Overbooking isn’t illegal, but if you’re bumped involuntarily, in most cases the airline has to rebook you in a timely manner –– or pay you. They might even have to do both. On domestic flights, if the airline rebooks you to land 1 to 2 hours later than your original arrival time, the airline has to cover your ticket and pay you double your one-way airfare up to $675. If the delay is more than 2 hours, or the airline doesn’t make any alternative arrangements for you –– you are due four times your one-way airfare up to $1,350.  And, if an airline tries to give you a travel voucher, demand the cash. You’re entitled to it.

Consumer Reports also suggests booking flights with credit cards that offer good insurance for air travel snafus. The Chase Sapphire Preferred card, for instance –– offers trip coverage up to $10,000 for certain cancellations, like if you’re sick –– and $500 for delays.

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